Thursday, August 27, 2015

Four Deadly SIns of Weak Wannabes

Dmitry Klokov doesn't mess with the Four Deadly Errors

Below is a good article that points out some common mistakes I see young people making.
Strength doesn't just happen. Like anything worth having, it takes concentrated effort, patience, dedication, and a determination of steel.

Getting strong involves a lot of trial and error though it's true many of us spend much more time in the error stage, wondering if progress will ever come. We change up our exercises, our reps, our methods, our pre-workout rituals—"What if I clap my hands three times instead of four before I try to hit 315?" But nothing seems to work.

In this article Tim Heinriques points out four errors — deadly errors, apparently — that will serve as your proverbial shovel to dig yourself out of your strength rut.

But while Heinriques can hand you the shovel, it's up to you to put that sucker in the dirt and start digging.

It's time to get dirty.

by Tim Henriques
Mistake #1: Listening to weak people.
No, we're not judging character. But most of the guys who are teaching other guys how to get strong are weak as kittens, and that just ain't right. Sure, they may know what proper form is, how to manipulate a diet, or how to be fit, but it's not the same as knowing how to create a proper program with the purpose of developing maximal strength.

There's simply too much that must be learned if you want to get someone strong, and I don't think you can learn it all without doing a lot of trial and error on yourself. If a coach won't share at least some of their personal records with you, it should be a warning sign. Now, I'm not saying every coach must be Ed Coan but they should at least be good at the stuff they're trying to coach you on.

One of my favorite quotes sums up my feelings nicely:

"Don't spend much time listening to someone talk about something they have never done."

Mistake #2: Program hopping.

The good news is if you fix the first mistake, it'll usually take care of the second. Find a coach who knows what they're talking about, who walks the walk, and whose general philosophy sits right with you (Poliquin, Thibaudeau, Cressey, Gallagher, Hatfield, and Bostrom are just a few that come to mind) and follow their programs if you're not making progress on your own.

But here's the thing: you can't change too much right away. Follow their programs as written, at least for a while (several months if not more) before you start to tinker with them to meet your individual needs. Too many people change too many variables too often.

Program hopping often leads to a kind of "starting over" where you perform the first couple of weeks of a program (which is usually an introduction or foundation-building period) and then switch over to something else before the real progress occurs. Changing programs also makes progressive overload more difficult to implement and measure.

Progressive overload, when combined with the principle of specificity, is the single most important element in a program designed to increase muscular strength. The goal is not to do 50 different exercises over the course of a month, but to pick five to ten key exercises and work on them repeatedly to improve strength.

Mistake #3: You don't know why you're doing what you're doing.

Yeah, this sounds stupid, but a lot of people don't really know why something is in their program; they just put it in because it looks good or they think they're supposed to do it.

Here's an example: one legged squats (pistols as they are sometimes called) don't do jack to increase maximal strength or muscle size; if you grow from doing them then you'd probably grow from doing almost any hard leg work. Why do we know this is true?

Because there are lots of people that weigh 135 pounds soaking wet that can do five good pistols, but if you were to ask them to get under the bar with 275 pounds on their back they'd get buried. And to the best of my knowledge, most of the really good squatters (Anderson, Karworski, Coan, Hamman, Hatfield) never attributed their squatting prowess to a lot of work on one-legged squats. So does this mean that one-legged squats are a waste of time? Not exactly. But they're not for building strength.

What usually happens is a coach thinks that one-legged squats will be good for their athlete to do. So they exaggerate the effect of the exercise and tell them that one-legged squats will make the athlete huge and jacked and help them get laid.

So the athlete spends some time doing them, gets a little better at them, but their actual squat doesn't go up and their legs don't change in size. (Plus they don't do any better with the ladies.) The end result is they think the coach is an idiot and they stop doing the one-legged squats.

I think it would be much better if coaches were just honest about what an exercise does. A one-legged squat can be good for your ankles, knees, and hips and can help keep you healthy and mobile. But that's it.

I also believe that if you know why you're doing something you can focus on the purpose of what it's supposed to achieve. If you think one-legged squats are for getting huge, you'll naturally push yourself and try to use more weight, perhaps at the expense of form. If you think their purpose is to keep you healthy and injury free, then you'll start to focus on technique, hip angle, and knee drift, which, most likely, will be more effective.

I recently started doing more one-armed push-ups. I'm not doing them because I think they'll make my chest huge or because I'll instantly add fifty pounds to my bench. I'm doing them to increase my shoulder stability, which might keep me healthy and may yield a better bench press.

Knowing the purpose of an exercise can help you decide if you should do it, how to program it, and if it's giving you the results you want. That can only help you in the long run.

Mistake #4: You don't understand your body.

You can't have a heart to heart talk with your body, but the saying "know thyself" fits best here. As a lifter in the pursuit of strength, at some point you have to start figuring out how your body responds to exercise so you can modify or create programs to meet your goals.

If you're still relatively new to the strength training world (less than five years) I wouldn't fret about this too much; the knowledge will come as long as you're paying attention to what you're doing.

To facilitate the learning, I want you to make a list of ten exercises that you believe, deep in your heart, make you strong. Not what you think other people will say, or what the experts say, but ten exercises that you honestly believe will get you strong. Now look at your program. All of those ten exercises should be what that program is built around.

If you can avoid making these common mistakes and combine that with intense training, progressive overload, and good exercise selection, you may just find yourself stronger than you ever thought possible.

He steamrolls over them

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